Today is Halloween, a day when zombies abound. Zombies have their roots in Haiti, specifically in the pain and suffering of slavery. Amy Wilentz reminds us zombies exist throughout the year. As she puts it, “The zombie is devoid of consciousness and unable to critique the system that has entrapped him. He’s labor without grievance. He works free and never goes on strike. You don’t have to feed him much. He’s a Foxconn worker in China; a maquiladora seamstress in Guatemala; a citizen of North Korea…” In zombies, one hears echoes of oppression, in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. Her full article follows.
The Pulitzer Center and Population Services International (PSI) will hold “Voices of Haiti”, a performance concerning the ongoing consequences of the earthquake, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on July 25th and 26th. It will feature a documentary, poetry, music, photography, and reporting from a variety of sources. Voices of Haiti has previously been screened in Port-au-Prince and Miami. More information follows below.
Below is a New York Times Photo-Blog (Lens) about photographer Maggie Steber. Steber has been involved with Haiti since 1986, and her photographs capture both turmoil and beauty. Her photos, along with commentary about them, can be found on her website "The Audacity of Beauty". Steber knows Haiti intimately and has never given up on it. Her photos and experiences can help others better understand Haiti as well.
Below is a guest blog by Raynald Leconte, Chairman of the Haitian Cultural Foundation (HCF). HCF has produced a documentary about Haitian art entitled "In The Eye of the Spiral" with commentary by some of Haiti’s most important living artists. Haitian art is so expansive that it can be difficult to describe adequately. To paraphrase the artists: “Chaos is the reality of life…there are few places in the world with as much chaos and artistic devotion as Haiti… creativity is our wealth”. Check out the documentary and HCF as well. Thanks!
To say the Dominican Republic and Haiti have a difficult history is an under-statement. Despite historical (and largely artificial) divisions, there is much the two countries share. This includes a love of music, dance, rum and a good fet/fiesta. The Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Center and the Haitian and Dominican Embassies teamed up yesterday to hold a concert celebrating friendship among two peoples who share an island and a future. Enriquillo Tejada y Los Clarinetes Magicos and Tabou Combo represented their countries well.
Orchestre Septentrional, founded in 1948, is as much an institution as it is a band. A New York Times article by Larry Rohter below describes how Septen, much like Haiti itself, draws from European, African, Caribbean, and Latin American influences to outlast uncertainty and adversity. Interested in hearing/learning more? Check out the new documentary about the band called "When the Drum is Beating." Or better yet, see them in Haiti.
Below is a piece written by Ovetta Sampson for the Christian Science Monitor concerning Haiti's bid to join the African Union (AU). Haiti has been considered by many to be an orphaned African country. Membership would acknowledge Haiti's African roots, strong even today, and possibly open doors for credit and investment. Haiti's request for associate membership will be considered at the next AU Summit in June 2013. It would be a unique arrangement, but then again, Haiti is a unique country.
Like Haitians themselves, coffee has African roots. Throughout much of its colonial and post-colonial history, coffee was a major export and source of livelihoods. However, mismanagement, deforestation, natural disasters, political instability, and embargos have resulted in a dramatic decrease Haitian coffee exports. Yet, Haitian coffee is good - unusually good. Can Haiti revive and expand its coffee industry? Just Haiti and Singing Rooster are two organizations that believe it can. Buying from either of these organizations is a great way to support both your coffee habit and Haitian farmers.
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is an independent organization that has been dedicated to saving the world’s architectural and cultural heritage sites since 1965. WMF accomplishes this through advocacy, education, capacity building, and disaster response. Each year, WMF releases a Watch List of architectural sites that are at risk. Three Haitian architectural sites were listed on the 2012 Watch List: (1) The San Souci Palace in Milot; (2) the Gingerbread Houses of Port au Prince; and (3) the Jacmel Historic District. Read about these sites and how to get involved in their protection below.
I finally got around to watching the No Reservations episode in which Anthony Bourdain travels to Port au Prince. While it is a shame that he did not visit Haiti’s secondary cities or countryside, he and his team were able to capture some of the beauty, the tragedy, and the potential of Haiti. He comes away understanding Haitians are trying their best to get their lives, communities, and country back on track. You can catch the entire episode (in three parts) on Youtube.